Saturday, August 01, 2009

Almost There. Not Quite.

“Oh, I'm bound to go where there ain't no snow
Where the rain don't fall and the wind don't blow


Where they hung the jerk that invented work
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.”

I don’t know about everyone, but to me, the city surely can become claustrophobic at times! Thank God that there is always the country, and the woods, and the nowhere, even, right outside of every city in the world, and you can escape, even for a day.

I have not been to Stone Mountain, NC since 2006. If I think really hard, I could probably give you the exact date. This week, I was looking on the map for a winery (Shelton Vineyards in the Yadkin River Valley), and saw that it was really close to Stone Mountain. I decided to visit both this weekend, just to recharge, refresh and forget about people-hood for a while …

But as you can easily guess, the mountain always wins over the wine in my book. And this morning, I woke up with a definite urge to trail, but not to wine. So, I went straight to The Mountain.

Following this year’s mantra of always trying to see something new, I tried a different trail (more woodsy and trail-like, less dirt road-like and less easy). It was beautiful! It was serene, and so quiet. I almost forgot how lush North Carolina woods get in the summer! The moss was overwhelming, a velvety carpet, with brown and yellow accents from dead leaves and mushrooms. And what mushrooms!

I love mushrooms: to shoot, to eat, to pick, to cook – you name it. The varieties and the abundance were amazing!!

For those of you who have been to Stone Mountain before, you know there are two points of attraction there: the mountain, and the falls. Well, I am here to confess, shamefully, that I did make it to the mountain (closer to the access road), but not to the falls. There were several things that stopped me half way.

You know you need new shoes, and you’ve taken these old ones everywhere when the bottom comes off of them. Yep! I have lost the bottom of my right shoe! They are at least seven years old though, so, they’ve done their job. I was depressed though. I get attached to shoes! I don’t buy them often! Especially running shoes! *sigh*.

After about a mile after passing the mountain, I sprained my left hip in such a manner, I could not walk straight anymore. I tried to move forward, but it hurt more and more as I advanced. Not sure what I did, or how it happened. I stretched. I lunged. Nothing helped.

And the last drop was a band of about 10 loud teens, in bathing suits, heading to the falls! I figured: any photo opps I had were shot (pun unintended) with the riotous group around, and judging by the very low level of the stream, I knew the pictures of the falls would not have been spectacular as it was.

So, the decision was made, to turn around. No regrets, of course!

The woods were magnificent. A true escape from the city, and reality, and life as you know it every boring day. For several hours, I just lost track of time, days, weeks, reason, and just listened to the stream, the very faint wind, the sweltering sun hitting the leaves, looking at tall trees, huge boulders, lush covers of mossy green, and shooting. Always shooting, every shroom, every piece of decayed wood, every dead rhododendron bloom, everything that was still enough to be shot. Except for the stream, of course. The beauty of the stream is in its movement.

The air was thick with lumber smells, and fresh, wet soil. It was the consistency of honey, at times, reminding me I am in North Carolina, after all: you could slice through the humidity with a knife. You can see in some of the pictures that you can look at trees almost like through steam. The mountain was steaming, like a sauna. My sweaty face and wet hair speak for that, as well.

The sky was lazy and still. If it were not for the buzzards flying all over the gorgeous stone wall, you would literally think you’re looking at a painting. There was no movement. Just quiet. And peace. Nature, and life have stood still, to wait for the day (or maybe the season) to pass! The silence and peace were material. Just like the wood, and the leaves, and the water, you could touch it.

I have to tell you, also, it warms up my heart when I see a group of 16 year old or so (all) boys tracking through the woods and singing “The Big Rock Candy Mountain”. As much as I am against pretty much everything that kids are exposed to nowadays, for them to know the lyrics of that song, and sing it all along, with such happiness and gusto, and not be embarrassed to belch it out in the woods, I was grateful to those parents, and grateful to the blue grass and country stations that we still do have nowadays, at least here.

It was a good day. Lost shoe bottoms, sprained hip, no wine, and all – it was refreshing to see mountains, and green, and freshness, happy kids, blue skies, and so much more.

I feel like I am ready for another two weeks of work-bound constraints now. Well, I would not go that far, but … I am happy I made this journey. Mountains never disappoint.

This is exactly what I was looking forward to all week long ... Aaaaahhh ...

For a complete album of this trip, please visit here.


Dawn in NC said...

Great trip, AW, but what the heck is going on with your hip?! How does it feel today?

A.W. said...

It feels a bit better today, after a hot shower, but it's still sore ... I am sure it just means I am old and out of shape. Shameful!!!!
Thanks, ma'am!!